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Review: NBA 2K12

Slam dunk da funk.

It appears that the NBA is in a spot of bother, with pre-season games cancelled due to players/club owners failing to break a deadlock over financial issues. So it falls to the virtual world to provide your basketball fix, and that’s where NBA 2K12 steps in.

  • Out Now
  • Platforms: iOS, PS2, PC, PS3, PSP, Wii, X360
  • PS3 version has Move support
NBA 2K11 allowed you to step into Michael Jordan’s shoes, but the big deal this year is the “NBA’s Greatest” mode, which allows you to take control of some basketball legends such as Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, and Julius Irving, and pit them against other classic and modern-day teams. Each of the 15 challenges in NBA’s Greatest even has period-specific depictions of the arenas, team uniforms, signature moves, and even historically accurate broadcast presentation.  It’s a great addition, and fairly difficult to boot. The level of authenticity on display will give NBA fans a buzz that just might be worth the price of entry alone. It’s a shame though these classic teams can’t be used online.

"I'm taking this, and going home."
Don’t fancy stepping in as a legend? Then you’ll want the My Player mode. This allows you to create your own character and take him from zero to Hall of Fame hero over a period of time. The character creation tool is fairly deep, allowing you to tinker with looks, position, right down to the name and number you want on your jersey. After a single exhibition game your player will face a number of interviews with interested teams, and you’ll then be drafted. Congratulations, you’ve made it! Actually no, this is just the beginning.

The good news is that your player starts off with reasonable stats, meaning the first few matches aren’t an embarrassment (unless your name is Dan, and then every game is a shambles). You begin your career on the bench, being subbed on at set intervals, so your first goal is to become part of the starting line-up. You’re also given in-game objectives to complete, such as finishing with a team grade of C+ or higher, and completing these will earn you stat points. These can be spent on upgrading your character in a huge number of ways, from offensive moves to how emotionally strong you are.

To be honest, everything in My Player is ridiculously in-depth, and it has to be one of the most comprehensive modes I’ve ever seen in a sports game. If I were to go through it all I’d be here all day, there’s that much to do. You can even take part in post-match interviews where the answers you give affect how people view you; or you can go ahead and donate a chunk of your salary to charity. If you’re feeling extremely generous you might want to organise a night out for your team to make them like you that little bit more. Whoever said “money can’t buy you happiness” obviously never had over $60k to blow on drinks and a meal. Be warned; if you start My Player mode expect to lose a great deal of your free time.

There’s also an Association mode, which can be played online, where you take control of a team through an entire season.

As impressive as all this is, it would all be for nought if the gameplay wasn’t up to scratch. Thankfully NBA 2K12 plays incredibly well. There’s a training camp to take you through the basics, and beyond that is an almost formidable amount to learn. As someone who isn’t overly familiar with basketball my first few games were a steep learning curve, but once it all clicks into place it’s very good indeed.

Animations are slick, and matches are fast paced affairs designed to suck you in until you realise you’ve probably not taken a breath for the last three minutes or so. The opponent AI is smart, too, and will catch you out if you repeatedly try for the same play; make no mistake they will punish you for making errors. It’s a good job your team mates are on the ball (ha!) too, there were occasions where they have gotten me out of trouble due to the computer giving me the slip.

I believe I can fly! Woo!
Another area where NBA 2K12 stands out is in its presentation. This isn’t just graphics I’m talking about, although they are top drawer, but the overall feeling of being involved in a real life sporting event. You’ve got pre-match montages, half time shows complete with cheerleaders and mascots, scores from other games, and some of the best commentary I’ve ever heard.

In fact, the commentary deserves a special mention as there are times you actually forget you’re playing a game, as the team discusses the match, as well as any anecdotes they may have about various players. Top stuff! The game also gets +1000 points for actually saying my surname out loud during a match, as that’s the closest I’m ever going to get to fame.

Unfortunately I’ve been unable to try out NBA 2K12’s online mode. After jumping through various hoops and setting up a My2K account there has been nothing but trouble. Games become incredibly laggy, even in the menu screen, and then disconnect. I did think it was because I was playing against people across the pond, but I’ve read that they have been having a whole host of issues too. This is really disappointing, bearing in mind the quality of the rest of the game.

I also found the loading to be a bit tedious as well. Pretty much everything brings up the little loading icon, and at times it can take almost a minute to finish. A minute might not sound too bad, but once you’ve loaded up several things one after the other it does start to grate.


  • Fantastic presentation.
  • The commentary is brilliant.
  • Plays very well.
  • Ridiculously in-depth.
  • NBA’s Greatest will delight fans.


  • Online is broken.
  • Some long periods of loading.
  • User interface could be slicker.

NBA 2K12 is a wonderful offline experience. I can’t even hazard a guess as to how many hours playtime can be wrung out of My Player, and it’s topped off nicely with NBA’s Greatest. Unfortunately the online portion seems to be riddled with issues, which will frustrate fans looking to take the NBA experience further, so be warned.

Score: 9/10

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  1. Sympozium
    Since: Aug 2009

    Tired a bit of 2k10 from Onlive, was difficult! but yeah the last NBA game was a EA one, 2003… was fun, new sports game would fresh for me.

    Comment posted on 07/10/2011 at 17:25.
    • Sympozium
      Since: Aug 2009

      *huh? tired? Tried..

      Comment posted on 07/10/2011 at 19:06.
  2. tonycawley
    Pint! Pint!
    Since: Feb 2009

    Good review, you’ve almost tempted me, almost. I think 9 is a little too generous here due to a couple of (what sound like) game breaking issues. Loading times can kill a game, the reason I got rid of modnation despite its brilliance. Also, the online is the part of the game people will spend most time on (or at least want to) so if that’s totally broken then half the game is gone. Shame for those two things as they totally put me off.

    Comment posted on 07/10/2011 at 18:45.
    • aerobes
      Since: Aug 2009

      Those are two big reasons which put me off too, especially online since I’ve just moved away from everyone I used to play locally with. It might be worth a go when it’s cheaper but with those flaws, I can’t justify full whack.

      Comment posted on 08/10/2011 at 09:07.
  3. Mundham
    Since: Feb 2011

    “Long some periods of loading”

    Did Yoda write this review? :-)

    Comment posted on 07/10/2011 at 19:08.
    • Dan Lee
      Common like the rest of us.
      Since: Jun 2010

      Haha yes, new baby syndrome, meaning I haven’t slept properly in a week :oD

      Comment posted on 07/10/2011 at 19:56.
  4. Origami Killer
    Since: May 2010

    Never had a NBA game, always loved the demo’s but never got round to purchase. This sounds great though, will certainly be looking out for it when the price has dropped.

    Comment posted on 08/10/2011 at 08:26.
  5. Vaile23
    Since: Dec 2009

    its a great game, some of the graphics out of games are really choppy and awful though, my only gripe really.

    Comment posted on 08/10/2011 at 12:00.

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